Written by J.K Muhammad
Motherhood, they told me, would make life worth living. It would enhance God’s purpose for my life and make my happiness happier. But that is not what motherhood did for me; at least not immediately. In fact, at the beginning of my motherhood journey, I found myself watching my faith in God diminish in the blink of an eye leaving me full of resentment and bitterness. Postpartum depression contributed mostly to my despair however; I was so angry with God for giving these circumstances to me that I couldn’t dig myself out of this gloomy disposition until I re-evaluated my relationship with Him.
Backing up a few steps, I could not wait to be a wife but I knew for as long as I could remember that I did not want to be a mom because I had watched women give up on their dreams to be mothers. From my perspective, women assigned themselves the role as martyr when they performed this most selfless act of giving birth. I saw women watch their children’s father live his dream and put the family he helped create second, which was not the life I wanted for myself. To some degree I pitied those women and judged their inability to maintain control over their lives. But then I became a mom, and all that shame and pity I felt for those women; dwelled in me.
Looking back, I can remember how dark my thoughts were. There were times that I told myself that I would rather die than continue this life as my son’s mother and my husband’s wife. I was so sleep deprived and just overall unhappy with life that I was starving myself on some days. I swore that I would run away and never come back. I envisioned my run away story would turn into a lifetime movie. (That would make me laugh in the midst of crying) And to top it off, breastfeeding was a nightmare. Breastfeeding was such a nightmare that I would silently cry while nursing so that I would not wake my husband. And then on other nights, where I just could not silently cry, I would get on top of my husband and sob for hours on his chest. He had no idea how to help me and I had no idea how to save myself. I would stare at my son, staring at me while crying, which broke my heart even more. And each night I would admit that maybe God did not exist because no God would allow the Co-Creator of life to experience such despair and heartbreak that I was feeling.
But it was also God who brought me out of that place. I dwelled in a place of anger and resent for eleven long months which felt like an eternity. Of course there were others variables that contributed to me feelings; living situation, being away from family, lack of support, and overall ambiguity about motherhood but in reflection to that time of complete darkness; I am stronger. I don’t want the message to be, “Black women must severely struggle to find God” But I do want it to be acknowledged that sacrifices have to be made. I wish I didn’t have to experience what I did, and I do not wish it on my enemies but I now appreciate little things… more. I also have to admit that I went through a long stage of denial with my new role, which also contributed to the challenges I faced. I did not want to trust the process. I created a habitat that stagnated my growth at times which heightened those other variables. But I think that was a byproduct of my grief. I may have grieved a lot longer than the average mother over the life I once lived. The freedom and the independence was what I missed the most and there was nothing that I could do to regain it. Although my resentment and anger have lessened, I still mourn the death of the old me. Like the death of a family member or a close friend, the hurt never really goes away it just impacts your life a bit less as the years go by. I am still mourning her. I still cry for extended times because I just miss her so much and the truth is; she is dead. She will never come back and I wasn’t ready for her to die. When a loved one has an illness, you know the time is coming but it hurts so much more when a family member dies unexpectedly. I had no idea the old me would die the moment my son burst from my body. (He actually did burst out FYI.) And after experiencing all of that, it altered my perspective on life and relationships.
My experience has made me a better sister- friend. It has made me a better woman. It has made me a better wife. I reach out to help women that I don’t have the best relationship with to offer my assistance. If they want to talk or need me to bring over food, I try to, at least a little bit, be the support I desperately needed. I am not Mother Teresa at all, but I have more compassion for first time mothers and mothers overall. I have more tolerance for people that have mental illnesses or people that just do not interact as society would deem as correct. I know what it’s like to not be accepted for who you are. And I do not want that feeling to be felt by my enemies. (maybe my worst enemy but not the in the middle enemies LOL.) I know first hand how it feels to be in a room with a hundred people but feel like you are locked in a basement alone. Those same people couldn’t hear me screaming for help and they couldn’t see me drowning in sadness but it made my ears capable of hearing screams and cries that no one else could. My eyes can see the differences women face after becoming a mom and I want to help them. Overall, I want for other women, what I want for myself. Unfortunately I had to experience death to walk proudly and graciously in life. And in my motherhood walk, I am not a saint. Someone can interact with me on any given day and catch some smoke, but I am much more reflective and intentional now. Motherhood has not made my life worth living like others have told me it would; it did however; solidify my purpose so that my walk in life is understood.